In the moments when it is just me and her, moments in which it is evident that her little feet long to touch the ground and see the world the way her mama sees it, we walk. Together. I hold her hand, and the two of us venture off into the world side by side. I look down at her, her smile bright, her steps a combination between sure and steady and tip toe movements. From time to time she stops to wave hello at someone passing by, to reach for a leaf or a stick, or to simply let go.
Depending on where we are, I continue to hold on tightly; my primary reason being to keep her safe. Sometimes she resists. Sometimes she understands, and we continue our strides hand in hand. Other times I let go. I allow her to walk beside me hands free, her confidence at its peak. She’s gotten the hang of this walking thing; her steps are quite different from the ones she took months ago.
I tend to struggle with the fact that I desperately want to hold on and never let go. With every hug, every cuddle, and holding of her tiny hands, I’m holding on tightly to every ounce of babyhood that remains. That is, before I am forced to come to terms with what every milestone newsletter already tells me — that I am the mother of a toddler. Again I find myself walking that fine line between holding on and letting go, a feeling that for me has become synonymous with motherhood.
And yet, I want to let go just enough. Enough to allow her to experience the confidence that comes with standing and walking tall on her own. Yet, at the same time, I desire to help her to understand that even when I let go, I’m always there. Whether it is by her side or in her heart. I want her to know that I believe in her. In her ability to forge a path, to find a way, and to become the person that she desires to be. Whether her steps are sure and steady or whether they mirror those of a budding ballerina (tippy toes) they are hers.
And so is my hand. It is hers to hold for as long as she will have me. Whether she holds on tightly or tugs at me to let go. It’s hers. As is my heart.